Of Cabbages and Kings

July 14, 2008

E.B. White and Stuart Little

Filed under: books, Fiction, Personal, Random musing — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 7:29 pm

The New Yorker carries the charming story of E.B. White’s debut children’s book, Stuart Little. It provides some insight on the wheels-within-wheels that can obstruct the success of a book, especially when the author dares to be different.

I did not discover E.B White till college. A girl cheated of her childhood grown into an adult with all the energy, fascinating questions, obtuseness and self-absorption of a child read Charlotte’s Web to me. She lost the book two years later, well after she had lost me as a friend. Another year later, I saw an identical copy on a Daryaganj footpath. I had no wish to renew the friendship, but something in me always wanted to indulge the lost little girl that was too unhappy to ever really grow up. I spent considerable time thinking of an appropriate note – one that offered her the book with all my love and best wishes but (without actually saying so) witheld the once abused friendship. I think I succeeded. She smiled that whole week but she remains very hostile towards me until we graduated and after.

E.B. White wrote books that made children smile – the little ones and the ones that grew up. That is quite a legacy. And look at the odds it fought to break through to the world.

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